Governor Brown Signs Legislation to Implement the Affordable Care Act, But Vetoes Other Significant Health Bills

For Immediate Release
October 2, 2012
For More Information Contact:
Isobel White, (510) 828-3554 Christine Sebastian, (310) 260-1220

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, the California children’s health coverage coalition applauded Governor Jerry Brown for signing several pieces of key legislation that move health care reform forward in California but also expressed disappointment that other key bills affecting children’s health were vetoed.

Governor Brown signed two important bills authored by Senate Health Committee Chair Ed Hernandez and Assemblymember Bill Monning (SB 951 and AB 1453) to define an "essential health benefits" package for health plans, as required by the Affordable Care Act. “Developing a solid essential benefits package is the first step towards providing children in the California Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) with the services they need to stay healthy, including pediatric vision and dental services,” said Ted Lempert, President of Children Now.

The governor also signed Assemblymember Susan Bonilla’s bill (AB 792), which establishes notification requirements about Medi-Cal coverage and the availability of subsidized coverage through the Exchange for families facing life changes, such as loss of a job or loss of dependent coverage. “Assemblymember Bonilla’s legislation is a critical step to ensure that California’s children and families are notified of the health coverage options available to them so they can remain healthy and continuously covered,” said Jamila Edwards, Northern California Director of Children’s Defense Fund-California.

Other key health reform bills signed by the governor included a bill to prohibit any entity from falsely representing themselves as the California Health Benefits Exchange (AB 1761, J. Perez), and two bills to help build a consumer-friendly, coordinated health coverage eligibility and enrollment system that will assist in connecting children to coverage (AB 1580 and AB 174). The governor also signed a bill by Assemblymember Holly Mitchell (AB 1640) to enable low-income pregnant women to access CalWORKs and Medi-Cal benefits upon verification of pregnancy.

Governor Vetoes Other Important Bills Affecting Children’s Health

Governor Brown vetoed two health care reform bills, authored by Senator Hernandez and Assemblymember Monning (SB 961 and AB 1461), that would have ended the practice of coverage denials due to pre-existing conditions for Californians of all ages, as called for in the Affordable Care Act, and also would have prohibited sicker children from being charged higher premiums. “We are deeply concerned that the governor has put the brakes on these two critical elements of the Affordable Care Act. Putting an end to discrimination against those with pre-existing health conditions is a hallmark of health reform, as is protecting the children who are most in need of affordable health insurance. This decision by the governor is not acceptable for California’s children and needs to be remedied,” said Wendy Lazarus, Founder and Co-President of The Children’s Partnership.

Governor Brown also vetoed proposed legislation by Senator Kevin De Leon (SB 970) to integrate the process of applying for public programs such as CalFresh and CalWORKs with the new online health coverage application system. “The governor has missed a crucial opportunity to ensure that uninsured children and families who are eligible for public health coverage and human service programs are enrolled,” said Suzie Shupe, Director of California Coverage & Health Initiatives.

Children’s advocates were also disappointed by the governor’s decision to veto a bill to establish a children’s cabinet in California, authored by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (AB 823).